SBJ Unpacks: Basketball Agent Mark Bartelstein Talks COVID-19
Mark Bartelstein is one of the most prominent agents in pro basketball, and like many others, his world has been turned upside down in recent weeks with the spread of the coronavirus. In the latest edition of the “SBJ Unpacks - Weathering COVID-19 Podcast,” our Bill King caught up with Bartelstein to discuss how he is handling the crisis. Below are some key takeaways from the interview.
On what players have at their disposal to stay in shape now that they can’t work out at NBA facilities:
Bartelstein: It’s a wide, wide range. There are some that have their own home court and weight room and everything you could ever imagine. There are other guys that are renting in the cities that they’re in. So for each guy, you have to figure out what resources you can create so they have everything they need. Some guys are in warmer climates, they can get out a little bit, get some fresh air, get to the local high school. We’re just trying to be very creative.
On working with players spread across the globe:
Bartelstein: Literally everywhere basketball is played in Europe, we’ve got clients there. That’s been a huge undertaking -- getting everyone home. We’ve got one player that’s still over there -- just feels safer doing that than trying to fly back. But everybody else is back now. So it’s scary. (The virus) was a much higher level there before it was here. The medical care there, not that they don’t do a good job, but it’s not what it is here in the States. It was a big undertaking that we had to go through -- get permission for them to leave, work out logistics. Flights were obviously issues.
On what it would mean to teams if they can’t hold individual workouts before the NBA Draft:
Bartelstein: A draft choice for a team is the biggest investment they’re going to make in terms of their future. And they’ve got to get it right. So having the player in their building, spending time with them, having the whole staff meet them, I’m not sure the workout matters as much as just the visit and all of that. This year I think the workouts may have mattered more just because we lost a huge platform, the conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament. That’s a big evaluation period, and that’s gone. But teams are doing their homework on these guys, not just this year, but certainly the top players they’ve been tracking them for years.